Hello, fellow humans.
Don’t mind me. I’m just having fun with my pal, the flu. Tis the season!
So, remember how I was chatting with you about Alan Moore’s fantastic Show Pieces? Well, it puts me in mind of another work of his. It’s not very famous so you’ve probably never heard of it. Super underground stuff. Have you, by chance, ever heard of Watchmen?
I thought not. Don’t feel bad; it’s an elite club.
Watchmen by Alan Moore
I was chatting with Pugs about this earlier, and when I asked him about Watchmen the first word that came to his mind was “thick”, which I think is about right. So rather than go into the details of the plot, suffice it to say that Watchmen is Moore’s commentary on the superhero phenomenon in general and, spoilers, he doesn’t like it.
Men and women dressing up in costumes and taking it upon themselves to fight crime? Sounds like disturbed individuals. Add to it the power to survive these encounters, a strength and ability above and beyond what normal humans can attain? Well, crazy + powerful = trouble.
And this is the overarching theme of the comics. Moore is opining aloud that it just might not be the best idea ever to put your lives in the hands of people who dress up in costumes and go out looking for some crime to punch in the face night after night.
Watchmen by Zack Snyder
Which brings us to the movie adaptation. This is going to come as a shock to everyone who didn’t read the title of this post, but I would like to say (and not ironically) thank you for not selecting a director with vision for this movie. Instead you gave the film to Zack Snyder, which was a decent choice.
You see, I like this movie. When I asked Pugs about it earlier tonight, the one word he came up with was “boring”, which I think is sorta right, though not spot on. You see, for the most part Zack took what Alan wrote and just kinda lazily filmed it, resulting in an uninspired but overall faithful adaptation of Moore’s original comics. There were some Zack Snyder action moments and there were some liberties that were taken that fanboy purists (such as myself) will be put off by, such as the changing of Ozymandias’ plan, but with that one exception the sins were venial.
Now, with such a strong authorial voice in the comics, could you imagine what this film would have been like, how discordant it would be, if it had to compete with a directorial voice?
Imagine a Christopher Nolan Watchmen where, yes, Rorschach is dark and brooding…but also the Silk Spectre is dark and brooding. And Nite Owl is dark and brooding. Oh, and let’s not forget the Comedian…who would be dark and brooding.
Imagine a James Gunn Watchmen that is genuinely funny and quirky. But…Watchmen, funny and quirky?
Imagine a Joss Whedon Watchmen where the dialogue is fast and witty. Watchmen x Buffy. The Comedian exchanging quips with Dr. Manhattan as they murder through the fields of Vietnam. I actually feel like I’m going to be sick. No, really, I know people say this all the time, but I really feel like I need to vomit and I don’t know if it’s because I have the flu, if it’s because I thought of Joss Whedon writing/directing Watchmen, or if it’s simply because I thought of Joss Whedon.
Probably all three.
So Alan, if you’re reading this, I don’t expect you to ever see the film, but rest assured Watchmen was better than, say, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Yes, it is a low bar, but in this world you take what you can get.